During the late 1930’s the world was contaminated by the Second World War and the Holocaust.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Holocaust is defined as follows: “a sacrifice wholly consumed by fire. ” During the Holocaust, the Nazis, under the command of Adolf Hitler, liquidated over six million Jews. There is one Jewish survivor whose story especially touched my heart and changed my attitude towards life for the better. This amazing woman is Krystyna Chiger.
Krystyna and her family escaped the Nazi liquidation by living in sewers for fourteen months (qtd. in “The Girl in the Green Sweater” 5).Accordingly, thorough assessments of my personal experiences according to the life lessons of Krystyna Chiger descriptively visualize the Holocaust and its everlasting impact on society. When one’s entire life becomes flipped upside down and ultimately destroyed, that person will need to hang on to something in order to survive. Once the Germans invaded Lvov, Poland, Krystyna’s family fled into hiding and left all their worldly possessions behind.
Krystyna managed to keep the green sweater that her late grandmother had knitted for her all during the war.Without a doubt, the sweater brought to life her memory of her grandmother’s warm hugs every time she put it on. This was one of many miracles for her and her family. The green sweater now stands on permanent exhibit at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D. C. , and is a tribute to the struggles of all Jewish children during the war, as well as a tribute to the child that Krystyna Chiger used to be (5).
Moving forward, the Jews faced serious levels of anti-Semitism, but surprisingly they were not hated by everyone.According to Elie Wiesel, there were Christians or “Righteous Gentiles” who were very sensitive to this tragedy (qtd. in “The Perils of Indifference,” par. 3). Amongst the generous sewer workers who looked after the Chiger family was a “Righteous Gentile,” who was seeking redemption for his sins. A simple lesson to be learned here is that one should not give up hope even at the worst of times.
Additionally, it is not wise to be unkind to someone since that someone may be one’s only hope one day. As I entered my mid-twenties, I was an American soldier deployed to Camp Prosperity, which was centrally located in Baghdad, Iraq.During the twelve long months that I served there, I shared a few things in common with Krystyna Chiger, but on a different level of course. Time would always seem to pass slower while in combat, which meant that it became harder to keep a clear head about things.
This was the first time that I recall “thinking outside of the box. ” In order to survive the worst of times, one will often step out of the moment and let his or her mind drift to any familiar place or time to gain a sense of ease and comfort (Chiger, 2009).Comparatively, with Krystyna and myself, this method is the only thing that kept us equally strong in our life experiences. When one takes in the moment and truly enjoys a walk on a crisp spring morning, the daylight and fresh air for the first time in ages, or even just to step on solid concrete once again, it is a beautiful feeling.
In part of Professor Nitzarim’s essay, “What Might Have Been—What Might Be,” he articulates this on a sensual level (Nitzarim, par. 1). Upon my return to Fort Hood Texas in 2009, I recall stepping off the airplane onto the runway and feeling at home again, back to civilization.This feeling is shared, of course, with Krystyna Chiger when she was liberated and climbed out of the sewer to take in her first breath of fresh air in fourteen months (Chiger, 2009).
I mentioned these parallel moments since they will never be forgotten in either of our lives. They are staples in our memories. A moment of silence can hold an infinite amount of meanings. I treat every moment of silence respectively different depending on the nature of the topic. In the reading “I Need You to Accept My Words,” brief moments of silence hold an educational role in impacting and conveying personal stories (Geschier, par. 7).
Respectively, I feel that a moment of silence is the least one can do for all of the tragedies that our world is scarred with. There has never been a time when any one religion has been treated on an equal level with another. This is significant in understanding the part of war and, of course, the Holocaust. In the short story “The Watchword Marathon,” I found a profound statement by Anne Frank which has deep meaning: “What one Christian does is his own responsibility, what one Jew does is thrown back at all Jews” (Nitzarim 14).Most importantly, many Jews share the consequences of the indifference others have shown them when they suffer. I am Christian and fully respect the lessons to be learned from those menacing years in the 1930’s when Jews lived every day on trial.
Since “everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person,” I sincerely hope that no one ever has to live through an inhumane act ever again (qtd. in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 2). It’s hard enough that as parents we will be called to answer our children’s questions about why this all happened?In Yoel Nitzarim’s poem, “A Chimerical Spill,” his four-year-old daughter Cheli asks her parents why the Nazis killed the grandmother she had never known (Nitzarim, Line 1). This is a direct example of the long lasting impact that the Holocaust has on society. Many years after the fact, people are still concerned with unanswered questions which need to be answered in one way or another. Therefore, Krystyna Chiger adapted coping skills as a child that most mature adults have yet to learn.
Both Krystyna and I have lived through very difficult times and have equally come out of our situations with deep insight on humanity. The realization that Holocaust survivors and their supporters deserve great accommodations is increasing in our society every year. With deep emotion, I was keen to assess my life experiences with the profound lessons from Krystyna Chiger in order to capture the essence of the impact that the Holocaust had on society. One will always learn from another if he or she is willing to keep an open mind.